Pseudopelade is an extremely rare hair loss condition which mainly affects women. The gender ratio for sufferers is three women to every man. It’s not known why Pseudopelade is overwhelmingly a women’s hair loss condition, but then that seems to be par for the course with this condition, which is still shrouded in mystery.
This form of hair loss is also known as Alopecia Cicatrisata and is a form of scarring alopecia. The name Pseudopelade is taken from the French word for Alopecia, “pelade”, reflecting the history of the condition. It was discovered by a French dermatologist, Louis-Anne-Jean Brocq, and for this reason is also referred to as “Pseudopelade of Brocq”.
Alopecia Cicatrisata is an ill-defined condition which is frequently mistaken for other hair loss conditions, such as Lupus and the little-known Lichen Planopilaris. In the latter case it is so similar that several medical experts argue that Pseudopelade and Lichen Planopilaris are in fact the same condition.
Diagnosing hair loss through Pseudopelade
To achieve a positive diagnosis, a skin biopsy is usually required. Physical symptoms of Pseudopelade in the early stages of the condition include irregular shaped patches of alopecia which often tend to cluster around one particular area of the scalp, eventually blending into each other to cause extensive balding. Sufferers may also suffer from inflammation of the scalp which makes the skin across the skull appear redder than usual to the eye.
Pseudopelade is a degenerative condition that causes inflammation of the upper hair follicle, causing the follicles to shrink and, over time, cease to grow. The loss of hair progresses slowly, with many sufferers noticing higher levels of shedding for several years. Once it has reached its end-game, the condition simply stops. The results at this point can be anything from a patchy hair loss across the scalp to almost total baldness, with only individual strands of hair visible.
It tends to affect only scalp hair and, as with all scarring alopecias, usually leaves skin looking slightly shiny where the hair follicles have ceased to regenerate. The characteristic inflammation that accompanies the condition, causing a pink-red colouring of the skin, ceases at the same time as the Pseudopelade, and exposed skin goes back to its normal colour.
Causes of Pseudopelade
There is no known cause for Pseudopelade and the jury remains divided over whether it is an auto-immune disorder or the result of genetics. There is a strong leaning towards it being auto-immune in nature, largely because of its similarities in presentation to auto-immune conditions such as Alopecia Areata. Pseudopelade is sometimes confused with Alopecia Areata, but is not the same clinically or practically. The two conditions attack different parts of the hair follicle and have entirely different life cycles.
As so little is known about Pseudopelade, both in general and specifically, there is no real course of treatment from a trichology point of view. If you are concerned about Pseduopelade then your first port of call should be your local GP who can confirm the diagnosis and start working with you to move forward with your condition.